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News

Spooktacular moved indoors


Due to rain, today's downtown Los Altos Halloween activities have been moved to the indoor courtyard of Play! at 170 State St. Enter from the back on the parking lot side to participate in crafts, games and fun. Activities continue until 4 p.m.

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Schools

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students line up to check books out of the library in the new Grizzly Student Center at Gardner Bullis School.

Gardner Bullis School opened its new Grizzly Student Center earlier this month, introducing a lea...

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Community

Home improvement workshop scheduled Wednesday (Oct. 29)

The County of Santa Clara is hosting a free informational workshop on 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 Fremont Road.

The workshop will offer ways single-family homeowners can increase their homes’ energy efficiency. Eligible i...

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Comment

Off the fence: TC recommends 'yes' on N

The Town Crier initially offered no position on the controversial $150 million Measure N bond on Tuesday’s ballot. But some of the reasons we gave in our Oct. 15 editorial were, on reflection, overly critical and based on inaccurate information.

We ...

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Special Sections

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Forrest Linebarger, right, installed greywater and rainwater harvesting systems at his Los Altos Hills home.

With more brown than green visible in her Los Altos backyard, Kacey Fitzpatrick admits that she’s a little e...

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Business

Local realtors scare up money for charity

Local realtors scare up money for charity


Photo courtesy of SILVAR
Realtors Gary Campi and Jordan Legge, from left, joined Nancy Domich, SILVAR President Dave Tonna and Joe Brown to raise funds for the Silicon Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation.

Los Altos and Mountain View realtors raise...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

DAVID S. NIVISON

DAVID S. NIVISON

David S. Nivison, 91 years old, and a resident of Los Altos, California since 1952, died Oct. 16, 2014 at home.  His neighbors had recently honored him as the “Mayor of Russell Ave., in recognition of 62 years of distinguished living” on that ...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

ECYS opens season Sunday

ECYS opens season Sunday


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
The El Camino Youth Symphony rehearses for Sunday’s concert, above.

The El Camino Youth Symphony – under new conductor Jindong Cai – is scheduled to perform its season-opening concert 4 p.m....

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Spiritual Life

Christian Science Reading Room hosts webinar on prayer and healing

Christian Science practitioner and teacher Evan Mehlenbacher is scheduled to present a live Internet webinar lecture, “Prayer That Heals,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Christian Science Reading Room, 60 Main St., Los Altos.

Those interested ...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Natives soak up watered gardens

Photo Arvind Kumar/Special To The Town Crier Hummingbirds enjoy the magenta flowers of hummingbird sage, which releases an enjoyable fragrance when touched.

 

California native plants can thrive poolside or pondside, next to a vegetable garden, in range of lawn sprinklers, in a rain garden, covering the ground near fruit trees, in a flower border that gets regular water or under a birdbath.

The best choices are plants that come from riparian, or streamside, areas, though some common natives tolerate a surprisingly large range of conditions. For a small garden, use barriers or containers to keep some of these plants in check.

With regular water, certain otherwise well-behaved natives expand their territory. If you already grow these plants in drought-tolerant conditions, don’t start watering them unless you want to propagate them.

Yarrow, for instance, takes full to part sun, tolerates drought, yet also does well – and spreads faster – where it gets regular water. Its creeping stems create a good ground cover, kept low if you snip the flowering stems.

I leave the flowers to attract beneficial insects to my vegetable garden, where yarrow mingles with low-growing light-pink- or purple-flowered seaside daisy and fragrant-leaved yerba buena in different areas alongside vegetables and berries.

Hummingbird sage is similarly adaptable. One of my plants has filled a large pot and cascades over the edges. Another one has gradually filled a garden bed. I enjoy the fragrance of the leaves, released when I touch them, and the hummingbirds enjoy the magenta flowers. As a bonus, if the plant spreads where you don’t want it, you can harvest its leaves and dry them for a delicious tea.

For the back of an informal border or the edge of a natural pond, add bursts of yellow in late summer to fall with western goldenrod. It will bloom more with more sun, and it needs to be contained if it gets regular water in a small garden. Goldenrod makes a good border for an edible garden because it attracts beneficial insects.

Brighten a shady or part-sun corner that gets some moisture with the red flowers of western columbine. Hummingbirds will find them! Left to go to seed, goldfinches will feed on them. Scarlet or red monkeyflower and yellow-eyed grass also add spots of vibrant color to moist areas.

On a larger scale, willows are the archetypal streamside vegetation. For a boggy or poorly draining spot, try a small willow, such as the shrubby Del Norte willow. Western spicebush, red-twig and brown-twig dogwood, fragrant thicket-forming native roses, western mock orange and fragrant western azalea also thrive with some water and provide food, forage and shelter for insects and wildlife. Golden currant is particularly picturesque with its flower-packed branches arching over a streambank.

For a pond itself, stream orchid is easy and needs consistent moisture to bloom. Its flowers have muted hues of yellow, brown and purple. Keep it in a pot to control spreading and so that you can move it when it goes dormant from fall to early winter.

Often used in modern landscapes for its architectural form, horsetail can grow in standing water but can colonize drier areas of the garden as well. I grow horsetail in a container, and I still need to weed around it periodically to keep it from spreading.

 

Tanya Kucak gardens organically. E-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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